Their thoughts are concerned with their own misery and particularly with the tortured cries of their hungry children. They are the easy victims of mass hysteria. When people become frightened democratic precepts mean nothing. ” The success of the French and Italian communist parties in postwar elections were particularly worrying proof of these fears. What was more, the economic crisis in Europe threatened prosperity in the USA as well. Without a general cover international trade would be damaged and the US was unlikely to recover any of the substantial loans it had made to its allies.
The situation encouraged the American Secretary of State, General George C. Marshall, to propose that the USA should help to rebuild European economies by giving them massive sums of money. His European Recovery Programmer (ERP) offered economic and financial assistance wherever it was needed. “Our policy”, he declared, “is directed not against any country or doctrine, but against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos. ” Nevertheless, he need to ensure markets for US goods and the advantages of wealth as a barrier to the spread of communism were not lost on the Congress, which approved the plan.
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Over the next four years over 13,000 million dollars of Marshall Aid flowed into western Europe, promoting economic recovery. A total of 1 6 west European countries joined the Organization for European Economic Cooperation (EEOC), which distributed American aid. The Russians, however, knew that there was more to Marshall Aid than benevolence. Although aid was in theory available to eastern Europe, including the Soviet Union, Molotov, the Russian Foreign Minister, denounced the whole idea so ‘dollar imperialism’.
He saw the plan as no more than a capitalist device for gaining control over western Europe and, worse still, for interfering in eastern Europe, which Stalin considered to be in his ‘sphere of influence’. Russia rejected the Offer Of help and neither her satellites nor Czechoslovakia, which was showing interest, were allowed to take advantage of Marshall Aid. The establishment of the Conform later that year was clear evidence that the lines between East and West were hardening.